PAUL GILL - CHAIRMAN AND OWNER, PURE CF

Paul gill, pure cf

I started at Pure CF back in 1984 as a labourer, working my way up until in 2002, I went and bought the company, so I effectively went from labourer to owner. Since then it has grown significantly and in 2009 we started to branch out, working with bars and other contract customers on larger projects worth anything between £50k and around £9m.

Today we have 120 employees, and have established long-term relationships with well-known brands such as Wagamama, Bella Italia, Café Rouge, Harvester, Jamie’s Italian and Holiday Inn, with a list spanning as far as the USA and Middle East.

In fact, we are currently working with Gaucho in Birmingham on a project which involves cow hide wall panels and leather seating. They tend to send us a prototype to work on and let us come up with our own version. Sign off for companies like Gaucho – or any of the other well known names we work with - is generally not too time consuming as we are regular suppliers and they understand and trust how we operate. It sounds strange to say, but on this particular project, whilst it will be beautiful to go on site and see the finished result, I am actually a vegetarian.

“The current skills shortage has meant that recruitment adverts we have put out, particularly for upholsterers, have not yielded much success, so instead we fully train all of our people in-house”

Of course, the contract furniture sector is not without its challenges, although the market is good at the moment, certainly for us anyway. But it can be a demanding sector and lots of what we do is very bespoke, which is quite complex. And it has meant a bit of an evolution in terms of the techniques and materials we use, for example glass or steel. When you’ve traditionally worked with wood, the greatest difference with, say, steel, is that you can’t move it like you can with wood. How do we get around it? With a hacksaw usually!

But seriously, as many other people the industry would agree, another challenge is in finding the right people to add to our team. The current skills shortage has meant that recruitment adverts we have put out, particularly for upholsterers, have not yielded much success, so instead we fully train all of our people in-house.

I think this is realistically the way to go, and while I appreciate there is help for business available, I don’t tend to do things in a normal way. I don’t attend meetings, for example, with the organisations that can advise on any help with recruitment or training. It’s difficult to attend meetings if you don’t know what they do. That said, Pure CF are proud members of the British Contract Furnishing Association and Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, providing further reassurance to our customer base that we can be relied upon for service, reliability, integrity and professionalism, and that we will be around for another 30+ years.